Fossil Fuel Series: Part 1

Deepwater Horizon & Sustainable Energy

Just recently I went to see the movie “Deepwater Horizon” retelling the story of the oil spill disaster of 2010. Several times throughout the movie, I couldn’t help but wonder why we put so much money and risk into an endeavor that has a safer alternate solution. Of the 126 crew members on board the Deepwater Horizon, eleven were lost; a surprisingly low number considering how devastating that night could have been.

The BP oil spill is not the first, or the last, oil spill to ravage our ecosystems. While the surface oil can be cleaned, the effects of a spill trickle down to microscopic levels – most commonly in the form of mutations and health problems.  The ecosystem has yet to recover, though the fossil fuel companies have tried to convince us otherwise. While many species have been able to start regenerating, according to an article published on CNN, there is an estimated ten million gallons of oil spread across the seafloor of the Gulf in thick pockets as well as thin layers. This oil spans approximately 1200 square miles.

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My dad, brother, and me on our way to Deer Island, MS. Photo Credit: My mom, Kimberlee
When I was little, my family and I were stationed at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. I used to play at one of the many beaches lining the Gulf which was so violated. When I heard about the spill, then living in Washington State as a sophomore in high school, I was crushed. I was enraptured by my marine biology class, even going so far as to become the head lab tech and plan my college career around majoring in the subject. I followed the news closely, hoping that the ecosystem would not be irrevocably harmed.

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Feeding the anemones in my high school classroom over the summer. Photo credit: My mom, Kimberlee
In recent years there has been a big push to convert to renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power. Our largest combatants have been the fossil fuel industries and politicians, likely bought or funded by these same companies. Various countries throughout the world have taken up the call to move away from fossil fuels and towards sustainable energy sources, including Chile, Germany, India, and China. The U.S. was ranked second in renewable energy investments last year as approximately $44.1 billion while China ranked first with $102.9 billion according to Business Insider. However, we continue to drill for oil off-shore and remove mountain tops for the coal deposits, among other endeavors. For an excellent documentary on “mountain topping”, check out “The Last Mountain,” available on YouTube.

The unfortunate part about renewable energy is that the countries who contribute the least amount to the pollution and use the least amount of energy, are the ones paying for the effects of fossil fuels. They’re the ones that are stuck because of their available resources, or lack of resources. It is not, and should not, be their job to fix the problems caused by mass industrialized society, including the U.S. and China.

So what can we do?

Honestly? I’m not a scientist. I don’t have the research. I’m not a businessman or a politician. I can’t draft bills or invest large quantities of money into renewable energy. However, I will make my voice heard in as many avenues as I can and I challenge and encourage you to do the same. Insist on clean energy. Install solar panels for your home or business if you have the means to do so. Walk or bike instead of driving to avoid purchasing fossil fuels as frequently. Protest peacefully if that’s your calling. Petition your local and state governments to take action. We have the power to vote them into office. It’s our job to make an educated decision. I don’t know a lot, but I do know that something needs to change, for the sake of the overall health of our planet: flora, fauna, and ourselves. We are killing ourselves much quicker than anticipated. If you have any suggestions, shout it out here or anywhere.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the Fossil Fuel Series, coming soon.

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